Summer is coming, and along with that, the summer heat. Pools are opening back up, and if you are not swimming, you are missing out on an effective low-impact workout. Whether you are just looking for new ways to increase your overall fitness levels or trying out for an elite unit and everything in between, swimming may be the missing piece of the fitness puzzle.
Swimming is a low-impact way to attain high fitness levels without the damaging effects other forms of exercise are known to cause. 90% of a person’s body weight is supported in the water while burning calories with a short duration swim using minimal effort. Using the most basic swim strokes, one can burn hundreds of calories in as little as 20 minutes. We are not talking about racing and trying to set new lap time records in the local community center. Simple recovery strokes such as breaststroke with a slow, gentle pace are enough to achieve this.
However, if you are looking to torch body fat and increase muscle tone, all you need to do is pick a more challenging swim stroke like the crawl stroke, known as freestyle, and pick up the pace. Swimming harder actually increases the resistance of the water against the body, making it more and more intense the longer and faster one swims. In addition, swimming is a full-body workout engaging all major muscle groups making this the perfect activity compared to other forms of exercise such as running or cycling, which only engage the lower body and abs.
Swimming is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. It lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Swimming also increases your energy levels. While inactivity is the number one cause of low energy throughout the day, swimming just 45 minutes a week will immediately begin to reverse this.
Swimming also keeps you cool while working out. Think back to when you were a kid jumping into cold water. Remember the adults saying, “Once you get in, the water warms up?” Not true. You are sweating your ass off! It is you who is warming up, not the water. You are pouring sweat while swimming, and you do not realize it. As the water moves around you, it is constantly “washing” the work away from your body, regulating your body temperature. In climates with extreme summer temperatures, this eliminates the possibility of a heat-related injury such as heat exhaustion or a heat stroke.
Now that you know how unique this exercise is and its benefits, let’s discuss the proper equipment you will need and what this author recommends. Your swimsuit is the first place to start. Remember, swimming is a water sport. By picking the correct suit, you will help streamline yourself for a more efficient workout. I recommend using suits from Speedo®; they make them in varying lengths and sizes to fit any body type. Do not wear board shorts, non-workout bikinis, or running shorts.
Goggles are critical and keeping them fog-free has always been an issue for most swimmers. Johnsons® No More Tears® baby shampoo is the answer. Use one micro-small drop in each lens. Let them sit for one minute. Then, rinse them out before putting your goggles on. You only need the 4oz—bottle, which is enough to last anyone for years.
Effortlessly tracking your swim times and distance has never been easier. Whether in a pool or open ocean, you should try FORM® goggles. They have a digital display that you can easily see while working out. Or you can swim 100 meters and track your time with a stopwatch or pool deck clock for a more economical option.
Hand paddles are an excellent way to add resistance to any workout. Sporti® makes an ideal pair that is not oversized and provides the right amount of power and control.
Training with a pull buoy is an absolute must. The buoy keeps your legs afloat while keeping your whole body more streamlined, allowing you to slow down to focus more on your swim stroke and breathing.
Swim Training Fins
While training in a pool, you may not need or want fins. However, I cannot stress the importance of always wearing fins anytime in open water, especially at the beach or open ocean. Currents, waves, boaters, and small watercraft are dangerous and unpredictable. You will need both power and speed to safely train in that environment. I recommend using the short blade whole foot pocket training fins made by Speedo. They also perform optimally for pool workouts.
If you have long hair do yourself a favor a get a swim cap too. You will also need a wet training bag to carry your equipment and towel. A wet bag is one specifically designed using mesh and nylon. The open mesh design keeps your items secure while letting air get in, drying everything so you are always ready for your next swim. Flip flops are a must to keep your feet from feeling as if they are on fire while you walk poolside or in the sand.
There are hundreds of forms of exercise and sports options available to us. All of which have a more brutal impact on the body than swimming. None cool you down while working out, and very few work your whole body while increasing your cardio at the same time. So next time you get bored with your current options or want to cool down in the heat, don’t hesitate to jump in and go for it.